Happy Fourth?
Truth AND beauty.

How far I got this weekend, and why.

After this weekend of reading, I'm going to have to start describing myself as flighty.  Fickle. Short-attention-spanned.

I would go on but I've lost my train of thought.

I started all kind of books this weekend.  I didn't finish them.  What follows is my very own walk of shame, or a recounting of how far I got in the books I read, and why I wasn't woman enough to finish them.

Title: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach. Pages read: 117. Discussion: The title says it all, really. No one can fault Mary Roach for dull titles (Stiff and Spook). And it was interesting. And well-written. And amusingly foot-noted. But by page 117, I'll admit it, I simply could not read about vaginas anymore.  I was wearying of penises too but up to page 117 Roach's narrative is decidedly vagina-heavy.

Title: When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris. Pages read: 109. Discussion: This was a tough one to give up, because I am starting to like Sedaris more and more as time goes on. I was completely bored by his earlier books Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked, but somewhere in the middle of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim he started to win me over a little bit. And I enjoyed the parts of this book that I read, including his essays on his boyfriend (boyfriend? significant other? lover? I'm not sure what word to use, as Sedaris simply refers to "Hugh" and seems to assume that everyone knows all about their couplehood by now) Hugh's traveling style, a horrifying but somehow still hilarious experience he and his siblings had with a babysitter, he and Hugh's first apartment and their neighbor, and many other completely unrelated topics.  My favorite story was when he described how his sister Amy takes him shopping:

"'Buy it.' This is my sister Amy's advice in regard to everything, from a taxidermied horse head to a camouflage thong. 'Just get it,' she says. "You'll feel better.'

Eye something closely or pick it up for further inspection, and she'll move in to justify the cost. 'It's not really that expensive, and, besides, won't you be getting a tax refund? Go on. Treat yourself.'

The object in question may be completely wrong for me, but still she'll push, effectively clouding my better instincts. She's not intentionally evil, my sister, she just loves to see that moment, the split second when doubt is replaced by complete conviction..." (p. 56.)

That little story ends with Amy talking him into a sweater from the women's department, which is truly hilarious.  And the above is very, very, very well-written. I know just that moment that Amy Sedaris likes, the doubt-replaced-by-conviction moment, and Sedaris describes it with a miracle of economy.  Really good stuff.  So why did I stop reading?  I don't know.  Even when I really like him, I find 100 pages of Sedaris is about all I need to get by. I'm checking these books out from the library, after all, not buying them, so I can afford to read around wantonly.

Title: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler. Pages read: 149. Discussion: I really enjoyed the essays that I did read in Handler's collection. Better known as the host of E! network's Chelsea Lately and the author of a former memoir titled My Horizontal Life, about her collection of one-night stands, you can bet there's very little Handler won't say, which I enjoyed.  How she even managed to make getting hauled to jail on a DUI is beyond me (her sister had reported her for license fraud, as Chelsea had been using her older sister's ID before she turned 21, which is why she got thrown in jail). While there, I'll hand it to her, she does try to adjust:

"'What the fuck you thinking?' asked the woman in front of me waiting for the phone as she ran over and retrieved my sandwich from the trash. 'You can trade that for something.' Then she handed it back to me.

'What can I trade it for?'

'Candy, soda, pills, whatever,' she said. Finally, someone was speaking my language.

'What kind of pills?' I asked." (p. 57.)

Trust me when I tell you this woman is WILD.  Funny, but wild. And I can only read so much of that sort of thing before I start to get too nervous by proxy. Reading Chelsea Handler is like hanging out with a friend I had in college who was so seemingly unconcerned about her own personal safety that at one point she told me how she'd spent the previous night rambling around the north side of Milwaukee, at 2 a.m., in a formal gown, looking for the bus station to get back to Madison. She was exhilirating to know but exhausting to worry about.  Ditto with Chelsea Handler.

And there you have it. A weekend with very little closure, at least in the way of books. Here's hoping all the books you read this week are so good you'll have to finish them!